Evangelia Chatzikonstantinou, Researcher, NTUA:
“Science, Technology, Environment, Migration:
Energy poverty”

3.12. 2019

The coverage of the contemporary energy needs is recognized internationally as a vital factor for ensuring decent housing conditions. It is connected to the right to housing as it is determined by international organizations’ declarations, by public policies in Greece and abroad as well as by social movements.

Evangelia Chatzikonstantinou’s presentation on Tuesday, 3/12/2019, focused on the above-mentioned issue by highlighting it as a particular aspect of the crisis in the city. It should be understood as a relatively new social phenomenon, at least in Athens, and it is defined by the difficulty or even the exclusion of households from energy access. In particular, she described the impacts of the crisis and the new socio-spatial inequalities coming from the energy consumption. She, furthermore, focused on the debates and challenges connected with central heating in a typical Athenian apartments-building.

As she highlighted, energy poverty is a new form of deprivation which is connected directly with the livelihood, the local conditions, the technology and the infrastructure, together with the energy cost and the financial and environmental policies. It is not limited in the low-income population, although the poor and the ones who do not have access in dignified housing are more vulnerable. Financial measures by the central state is not a sufficient solution to the problem. A configuration of energy (technical) and social policies is required which will take into consideration the local conditions, as well as the perceptions and practices in regard to the household energy consumption which have been formed historically.

By presenting the results of the research that she conducted together with Fereniki Vatavali in the Municipality of Athens, she highlighted some very interesting findings and facts. For instance, during the crisis, middle-income population found themselves trapped in financial and debt arrangements/mechanisms related to the house market. Furthermore, as Chatzikonstantinou showed, refugees’ communities faced the similar or even more severe deprivation by facing both housing and energy poverty.

Regarding methodology, Chatzikonstantinou’s analysis was conducted at two levels: At a city-level, an overview of the problem was described through the analysis of statistical data and maps. At an apartment-building level (which is the type of building that played a pivotal role in the development processes of Athens in the post-war period), the major social disruptions derived from heating-related problems were analysed. During the discussion, issues related to the crisis, the environmental policies and the social reproduction of space and of the technology raised.

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